Case: Thomas v. City of Gulfport, Mississippi

1:05-cv-00349 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

Filed Date: July 21, 2005

Closed Date: 2007

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 21, 2005, fifteen named indigent plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of a putative class, filed this suit in in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the City of Gulfport, Mississippi. The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, asked the court for class certification and injunctive relief, claiming that various city policies and practices related to the …

On July 21, 2005, fifteen named indigent plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of a putative class, filed this suit in in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the City of Gulfport, Mississippi.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, asked the court for class certification and injunctive relief, claiming that various city policies and practices related to the processing, fining, and jailing of indigent accused and convicted misdemeanor offenders violated the First, Sixth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and Mississippi state law. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the following policies and practices were illegal: incarcerating indigent debtors for failure to pay court-imposed fines and fees; denying accused misdemeanants the right to counsel at hearings where the accused faced incarceration; and effectively denying indigent persons access to public court records by levying unreasonably high record retrieval fees.

On August 9, 2005, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding three more named plaintiffs to the suit. Seven months later, the defendants filed a motion to quash and dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs' service of the complaint was improper and insufficient to confer jurisdiction. The District Court (Judge Louis Guirola) denied the motion on August 23, 2006.

On September 27, 2006, the District Court stayed the case for 120 days pending settlement discussions. Following these discussions, the parties jointly filed a stipulation of dismissal on January 31, 2007, and the court closed the case.

According to a February 1, 2007 article in Mississippi's Sun Herald newspaper, the plaintiffs agreed to the dismissal after the city: created a program allowing indigent debtors to perform community service in lieu of paying fines; granted temporary amnesty to debtors with overdue fines; implemented a new court document filing and retrieval system; and doubled its budget for public defenders.

Summary Authors

Robert Lake (11/10/2015)

People


Judge(s)

Guirola, Louis Jr. (Mississippi)

Walker, Robert H. (Mississippi)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bright, Stephen B. (Georgia)

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Gohara, Miriam (New York)

Lipman, Joshua R (Georgia)

McDuff, Robert B. (Mississippi)

Shaw, Theodore M. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bruni, Jeffrey S. (Mississippi)

Judge(s)

Guirola, Louis Jr. (Mississippi)

Walker, Robert H. (Mississippi)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bright, Stephen B. (Georgia)

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Gohara, Miriam (New York)

Lipman, Joshua R (Georgia)

McDuff, Robert B. (Mississippi)

Shaw, Theodore M. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bruni, Jeffrey S. (Mississippi)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Feb. 2, 2007 Docket
1

Complaint

July 21, 2005 Complaint
6

Amended Complaint

Aug. 9, 2005 Complaint
17

Memorandum Opinion and Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Quash and to Dismiss and Allowing Plaintiffs to Correct Defect in Service Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.4(m)

Thomas v. City of Gulfport

Aug. 23, 2006 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Thomas v. City of Gulfport

Fines & Fees Justice Center

The Harrison County Jail was a modern day debtors’ prison. Officers went to predominantly African American neighborhoods arbitrarily checking people to see if they had paid their court fines and fees… Aug. 1, 2005 https://finesandfeesjusticecenter.org/articles/thomas-v-city-of-gulfport/

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos ( Filing fee $ 250 receipt number 023965), filed by All Plaintiffs. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(AVM) (Entered: 07/21/2005)

July 21, 2005
2

MOTION for Sarah Geraghty, Stephen Bright, and Miriam Gohara to Appear Pro Hac Vice, filed by All Plaintiffs. (AVM) (Entered: 07/21/2005)

July 21, 2005
25

Summons Issued as to City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (AVM) (avm). (Entered: 07/21/2005)

July 21, 2005

Pro Hac Vice fee paid by Southern Center for Human Rights: $ 25, receipt number 023966 for Sarah Geraghty; $ 25, receipt number 023967 for Stephen Bright; $25, receipt number 23968 for Miriam Gohara (AVM) (Entered: 07/21/2005)

July 21, 2005
3

NOTICE of Appearance by Robert B. McDuff on behalf of All Plaintiffs (McDuff, Robert) (Entered: 07/29/2005)

July 29, 2005
4

ORDER granting 2 Motion for Sarah Geraghty, Stephen Bright, and Miriam Gohara to Appear Pro Hac Vice. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on August 2, 2005. (King, Steve) (Entered: 08/02/2005)

Aug. 2, 2005
5

SUMMONS Returned Executed by All Plaintiffs as to City of Gulfport, Mississippi (by service on City Attorney Harry Hewes) served on 7/21/2005, answer due 8/10/2005; Bill Atchison served on 7/21/2005, answer due 8/10/2005; Richard Smith served on 7/21/2005, answer due 8/10/2005; Bill Markopoulos served on 7/21/2005, answer due 8/10/2005. (AVM) (Entered: 08/02/2005)

Aug. 2, 2005
6

AMENDED COMPLAINT against Walter Eighmey, City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos, filed by All Plaintiffs.(AVM) (Entered: 08/09/2005)

Aug. 9, 2005
7

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (AVM) (Entered: 08/11/2005)

Aug. 10, 2005

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 7 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer City of Gulfport, Mississippi answer due 9/9/2005; Bill Atchison answer due 9/9/2005; Richard Smith answer due 9/9/2005; Bill Markopoulos answer due 9/9/2005. NO FURTHER WRITTEN ORDER WILL ISSUE FROM THE COURT. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on August 17, 2005. (King, Steve) (Entered: 08/17/2005)

Aug. 17, 2005
8

Second MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response or Other Documents by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit "A" − September 29, 2005, Letter from Plaintiffs' Attorneys)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 10/17/2005)

Oct. 17, 2005

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 8 Motion for Extension of Time until 11/9/05 to File Responsive Pleading. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on October 31, 2005. (King, Steve) (Entered: 10/31/2005)

Oct. 31, 2005

Set Deadlines/Hearings: Answer due by 11/9/2005. (King, Steve) (Entered: 10/31/2005)

Oct. 31, 2005
9

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint and/or Any Proper Amendment Thereof or to Submit Response and/or for a Temporary Stay of Proceedings by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 11/09/2005)

Nov. 9, 2005

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 9 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer City of Gulfport, Mississippi answer due 1/9/2006; Bill Atchison answer due 1/9/2006; Richard Smith answer due 1/9/2006; Bill Markopoulos answer due 1/9/2006. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on November 14, 2005. (King, Steve) (Entered: 11/14/2005)

Nov. 14, 2005
10

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint Or Any Proper Amendment Thereof, Without Waiving Any Objections or Defenses, by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit "A" to Additional Motion for Further Extension of Time)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 01/09/2006)

Jan. 9, 2006

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 10 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint, deadline for response 2/23/06. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on January 10, 2006. (King, Steve) (Entered: 01/10/2006)

Jan. 10, 2006
11

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint Or Any Proper Amendment Thereof, Without Waiving Any Objections or Defenses, by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 02/23/2006)

Feb. 23, 2006

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 11 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint; defendants shall have 14 days from the date of this Order to respond. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on February 24, 2006. (King, Steve) (Entered: 02/24/2006)

Feb. 24, 2006

Set/Reset Deadlines: City of Gulfport, Mississippi answer due 3/10/2006; Bill Atchison answer due 3/10/2006; Richard Smith answer due 3/10/2006; Bill Markopoulos answer due 3/10/2006. Answer due by 3/10/2006. (wd ) (Entered: 02/27/2006)

Feb. 27, 2006
12

MOTION to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1 # 2 # 3 # 4)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 03/10/2006)

March 10, 2006
13

RESPONSE in Opposition re 12 MOTION to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, filed by All Plaintiffs. (Geraghty − PHV, Sarah) (Entered: 03/13/2006)

March 13, 2006
14

REPLY to Response to Motion re 12 MOTION to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, , 13 Response in Opposition to Motion − Rebuttal Memorandum in Support of Motion to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, filed by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 03/23/2006)

March 23, 2006
15

RESPONSE in Opposition re 12 MOTION to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, filed by All Plaintiffs. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1: Declaration of Virginia Thomas# 2 Exhibit 2: print out from Harrison County Jail docket)(Geraghty − PHV, Sarah) (Entered: 03/29/2006)

March 29, 2006
16

REPLY to Response to Motion re 12 MOTION to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, , 13 Response in Opposition to Motion, 14 Reply to Response to Motion,, 15 Response in Opposition to Motion, Surrebuttal in Support of Motion to Quash and Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 and 12, Specially Appearing, filed by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 04/03/2006)

April 3, 2006
17

ORDER denying 12 Motion to Quash . Signed by Judge Louis Guirola Jr. on 08/23/06. (Guirola, Louis) (Entered: 08/23/2006)

Aug. 23, 2006
26

Summons Issued as to Walter Eighmey and Brent Warr (amended complaint). (jch) (avm). (Entered: 08/31/2006)

Aug. 31, 2006
18

SUMMONS Returned Executed by All Plaintiffs as to City of Gulfport, Mississippi served on 8/31/2006, answer due 9/20/2006. (Geraghty − PHV, Sarah) (Entered: 09/06/2006)

Sept. 6, 2006
19

SUMMONS Returned Executed by All Plaintiffs as to Walter Eighmey served on 8/31/2006, answer due 9/20/2006. (Geraghty − PHV, Sarah) (Entered: 09/06/2006)

Sept. 6, 2006
20

ORDER STAYING CASE for 120 days pending settlement discussions. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on September 27, 2006. (King, Steve) (Entered: 09/27/2006)

Sept. 27, 2006
21

NOTICE of Calendar Setting for telephonic status conference on 2/1/07 (jrussell, ) (Entered: 09/27/2006)

Sept. 27, 2006

Set/Reset Hearings: Telephonic Status Conference set for 2/1/2007 02:30 PM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. (jrussell, ) (Entered: 09/27/2006)

Sept. 27, 2006
22

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint And/Or Amended Complaint, or any proper amendment thereof, by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Walter Eighmey, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Attachments: # 1)(Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 01/12/2007)

Jan. 12, 2007

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 22 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response to Complaint. Defendant shall have until February 2, 2007, to respond to plaintiffs' complaint and/or amended complaint. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Judge Robert H. Walker on January 12, 2007. (King, Steve) (Entered: 01/12/2007)

Jan. 12, 2007

Set Deadlines/Hearings: Answer due by 2/2/2007. (AVM) (Entered: 01/16/2007)

Jan. 16, 2007
23

STIPULATION of Dismissal by All Plaintiffs, City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Walter Eighmey, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos. (Geraghty − PHV, Sarah) (Entered: 01/31/2007)

Jan. 31, 2007

DOCKET ANNOTATION as to # 23 : as this document appears to be an order to be signed by the Judge, attorneys are reminded that this should be properly submitted to chambers pursuant to the rules for electronic filing, and not filed with the Clerk's office. (AVM) (Entered: 02/01/2007)

Feb. 1, 2007
24

NOTICE of Endorsement by City of Gulfport, Mississippi, Walter Eighmey, Bill Atchison, Richard Smith, Bill Markopoulos re 23 Stipulation of Dismissal (Bruni, Jeffrey) (Entered: 02/02/2007)

Feb. 2, 2007

State / Territory: Mississippi

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 21, 2005

Closing Date: 2007

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Eighteen indigent Gulfport, MS residents, individually and on behalf of a putative class.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Mooted before ruling

Defendants

City of Gulfport, MS, City

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Voluntary Dismissal

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Fetus Identity

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Courts

Over/Unlawful Detention

Pattern or Practice

Poverty/homelessness

Record-keeping

Records Disclosure